Softball Heads to Palm Springs

Feb. 23, 2010

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 Arizona Heads to Palm Springs for Tourney


February 26-28, 2010 ~ Big League Dreams Sports Park, Cathedral City, Calif.

The Games

After splitting a home doubleheader with Missouri, Arizona will hit the road for five games in the Cathedral City Classic, hosted by Oregon State University.


The Cats will play BYU and Fresno State on Friday, Cal Poly and Hawai'i on Saturday, and close up with Baylor on Sunday morning. All opponents are either ranked or receiving votes in the polls.

Team Notes

BYU: The Cougars (9-1) are led by freshman J.C. Clayton and her .571 average at the plate. She is one of three players to have an average above .500. Junior hurler Paige Affleck (5-1) has struck out 42 in 40 innings pitched, holding the opposition to a .237 average.

Fresno State: Junior Caitlin Stiglich leads the No. 19 Bulldogs (7-1) with a .533 average at the plate. Junior Morgan Melloh (4-1) has tossed 47 strikeouts in 28.2 innings pitched, and is one of two pitchers with an ERA of less than 1.

Cal Poly: The Mustangs come in to Palm Springs with a record of 2-1 on the young season. Junior Anna Cahn (2-0) was named the Big West Pitcher of the Week, but can also do damage with her bat. She touts a .625 average at the plate with five hits and a homer.

Hawai'i: The Wahine (7-3) have already hit 26 home runs on the season, but are led offensively by redshirt freshman Kelly Majam and her .516 average. Freshman Kaia Parnaby (5-0) touts a 1.21 ERA and has dished out 39 strikeouts in 29 innings.

Baylor: The Bears have a 6-4 record and are led by two plus-.400 hitters in senior Nicole Wesley (.421) and junior Jordan Vannatta (.407). Freshman Courtney Repka (5-2) held opponents to a .200 average in her seven appearances.

Last Time Out

Arizona was poised to host a Saturday doubleheader with Missouri, but inclement weather forced the games' cancelation.

Instead, UA played a Sunday double-dip, taking game one by a score of 5-0, then falling for the first time this season, 10-5.

Kenzie Fowler picked up the win in the first game, while Sarah Akamine took the loss in the second.


Defensive Consistency

If there is one tenet that Head Coach Mike Candrea has preached in his quarter-century of coaching at Arizona, it's that defense wins championships. But through eight games, Arizona has a .967 fielding percentage with seven boots, not normal for a club that has historically been more of a .975 club since the turn of the century. Even though the Cats are only eight games into the season, consider this:

· When Kenzie Fowler starts a game, the defense is fielding .980 behind her, with two errors.

· When Sarah Akamine gets the start, the defense fields at a .957 clip, committing five errors - with two of those coming in the outfield. In her freshman year of 2007, the outfield committed two errors all season.

To balance that, though, UA's offense is hitting .318 in Akamine games as opposed to .284 in Fowler's outings.

Hot Starts

Arizona has scored 22 runs in the first inning this season, including a three-spot in the frame in game one against Mizzou. Next up are the fourth and fifth innings, when the meat of the order usually takes their second at-bats. UA has held all opponent scoring to inside the first five innings.

Off and Running

UA has scored 61 runs in its eight games, an average of 7.63 per contest. Leadoff hitter Brittany Lastrapes and slugger Bailie Kirker lead the way with nine apiece, but 14 Cats have scored this year thanks to widespread use of the bench by Coach Mike Candrea. Eight of Arizona's top-nine hitters have all tallied at least three RBI.

Share the Wealth

Already through six contests, Arizona has had 15 instances where a Wildcat has had a multiple-RBI game. Nearly half of those fall in the three-RBI category, but four freshman (Matte Haack, Brigette Del Ponte, Becca Tikey and Baillie Kirker) have their names on this list that will run through the season. Newbies Haack and Kirker actually lead the team with its only five-RBI outputs thus far. Brittany Lastrapes has three multiple-RBI games, including the two that turned the tide against Northwestern, and Lini Koria has two - including her four against Fullerton that came off one swing of the bat.

Cashing in in the Clutch

Arizona has 21 two-out RBI through six games, five more than the total number of RBI they have allowed thus far. Game two of the Mizzou doubleheader put a damper on that stat though, as the Tigers put up seven RBI with two down. Freshman Matte Haack leads the team with four two-out RBI, all coming on a grand slam.

The Long Ball

Arizona has hit 10 home runs this season through eight games, good enough for a fifth-place tie in the conference behind UCLA's 21, Arizona State's 20, Oregon's 17 and Washington's 12. However, recent history has shown us that UA doesn't normally get off to hot starts with the bat. In 2008, the squad hit the same amount through eight games, on their way to leading the nation in home runs per game (94 HR in 60 games). Last season, the Cats had only five home runs through their first eight games en route to a record-breaking 134 jacks.

Freshman Power

The UA newbies currently hold the home run lead, with three between Baillie Kirker (4) and Matte Haack (1). Juniors Stacie Chambers has two and Brittany Lastrapes have one, and Lini Koria has the lone sophomore tally. Senior K'Lee Arredondo doesn't have much help from any other upperclassman bats.

Home, Sweet Home

Through 17 seasons at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium, Arizona has a home record of 493-43 and a remarkable 182-27 mark in Pac-10 games. The winning attracts crowds. The Cats averaged 2,458 last year, a national best, and an Arizona record by a large margin. The Cats have drawn 30 crowds of 2,400 or more over the year and did it consistently a year ago including the No. 6 crowd in history, a 2,895 group for the April 18 California game. This year's team appears capable of establishing its own appeal to keep the attraction of UA softball a winning ticket.

Candrea Approaching Milestone

Only eight games into the long season, Head Coach Mike Candrea appears destined to reach the 1,200 win plateau and become only the fifth coach in NCAA history to do so. He has 1,184 victories heading into this weekend's action.

Arizona Signees

Arizona Softball signed two high school seniors to letters of intent during the NCAA's early signing period in November. Shelby Babcock (P/1B, Legacy High School, Broomfield, Colo.) and Chelsea Suitos (SS, Elk Grove, Calif. High School) are both committed to enroll at the UA next fall.

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